New E-commerce Guide charts explosion in smartphone applications

A new e-commerce guide for postal operators by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) underscores the immense role of mobile technology in e-commerce growth.

“By adopting the latest mobile technologies customers are voicing their desire for easy shopping,” said UPU Digital Inclusion and Policy Expert, Daniel Nieto. “This sentiment is driving growth in mobile shopping and it is a trend that postal operators must not ignore.”

According to the UPU’s E-Commerce Guide, mobile online shopping has grown exponentially since UPU’s Postal E-Services Survey in 2012. Based on mobile commerce statistics from 2019, in the United States for example, 79 percent of smartphone users made an online purchase using their mobile device in the previous six months.

The Guide charts expansion of mobile phone applications among postal operators globally. Of the more than 200 designated postal operators – those postal operators chosen by one of UPU’s 192 member countries to operate the post – only 16 postal operators had adopted mobile phone apps in 2012. Five years later, in 2017, it was 57 – a rise of over 350 percent, but numbers need to increase further.

These figures show that postal operators recognize the trend, but face problems because smartphones are relatively expensive and mobile internet penetration is still low in some areas. Despite these challenges, in Africa, for example, posts are increasingly adopting mobile phone apps in their postal e-services to take advantage of the consumer trend.

Elsewhere, the Guide highlights the strong connection between posts and participation in e-commerce and offers updated information on postal e-commerce business models, delivery services and tools. The Guide sets out the UPU’s capacity building and technical assistance to Posts to help them succeed in the e-commerce market.

The UPU’s work includes groundbreaking projects such as Operational Readiness for E-Commerce, Digital Readiness for E-commerce, Payments Readiness for E-commerce and its Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility.


The Universal Postal Union is a UN specialized agency with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne. Established in 1874, it is one of the world’s oldest international organizations and is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players.

To access the E-Commerce Guide, please go to: https://www.upu.int/uploads/tx_sbdownloader/boostingECommerceAHowToGuideForPostalOperatorsEn.pdf

For further information, please go to:
David Dadge
Programme Manager, Communication and Events Programme
Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Mobile: +41 764573654
Work: +41 31 350 31 23

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